The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Warren & Co is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Warren & Co
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | WARREN & CO
Julie Kennedy, managing
Based in Gloucester, Warren & Co is a firm providing free
mortgage advice and complete financial solutions with
guidance in the domains of investment, protection, pensions
and – most commonly – the mortgage market. At the core of their
business is the view that the client comes first, which in practice
means offering advice that they themselves would act upon in
their own personal lives. Regardless of the size of the mortgage,
their clients are treated with the same level of seriousness and are
given equal levels of service. So successful is this model that most
of their business is repeat or referral, covering primarily the South
West, but also surrounding areas. As they are directly authorised
by the FCA, they can operate independently and provide the
best possible advice. Julie Kennedy, their director, describes in
fuller detail the business and its workings.
How we operate
We are a family business offering expert advice, mostly on mortgages, but also in
other areas, such as where to invest, tax planning, family protection and providing for
retirement, as well as offering help with affordable housing and help-to-buy schemes.
We began by offering mortgage advice to various police forces in the South West
via their federations. We were able to accommodate their shift patterns, understand
their pay, provide confidentiality of their employment and help them through the
mortgage process alleviating the potential stress. One of the more enticing features
of our mortgage service is that our advice is entirely free, with our revenue coming in
the form of a “procuration fee” from the lenders. This is an almost perfect example of a
positive-sum interaction, whereby all interested parties benefit. We also ensure to the
best of our ability that our advice is catered as closely as possible to the specific needs
of our clients, which requires from us an exhaustive and constantly updated database.
What helps with our business is the fact that I’ve been in this industry for over 35 years,
during which I have established a reputation that opens up referral opportunities from
other police forces, local estate agents, housing associations and recommendations
from our growing databases.
Our growth in the last two financial years has been substantial. In 2017 we grew
by over 30 per cent, and this year’s first quarter has seen us increase by 45 per
cent compared to last year’s first quarter. One of the reasons we’ve managed to
achieve this is because of our ability to adapt. For instance, shifts in the technological
landscape have caused considerable disruption in our industry, and we’ve done
our utmost to ensure we move in tandem. This has not, however, come at the
expense of the more traditional way of providing financial advice which is still highly
valued by many segments of the population – some considerable per cent of people
will always prefer the warmer, more human environment of in-person interaction.
AT A GLANCE
WARREN & CO
»Managing director: Julie
»Established in 2000
»Based in Gloucester
»Services: Financial advice
»No. of employees: 23
»We don’t charge for our
Warren & Co
39WARREN & CO |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
Whereassomecompanies in our
sector have abandoned face-to-face
altogether for reasons of cost, we’ve
decided to remain face-to-face while
also allowing for telecommunicative
methods. Some have decided to not
keep up, preferring paper to digital
methods. We’ve opted to offer our
clients the best of both worlds.
Challenges in our sector
A major challenge for us is regulations
– in particular, when retrospective
regulations are used to judge historic
cases. The “claim culture” fuelled by
the “no win no fees” and the “fishing”
techniques practised by some companies
are especially problematic for smaller
businesses, for whom compliance with
large numbers of regulations takes up a
greater proportion of time and resources
than it would for a larger company. It’s
important to keep on top of it, keep
up to date and ensure that the correct
procedures are in place should anything
arise. This can be expensive due to hiring
expert advice to help ameliorate these
problems. As soon as one issue has been
resolved, yet another hits the industry.
When compliance fails in our industry
extra charges are spread among us all;
fees are enormously burdensome and
lead to an increase in our PI insurance.
These charges as a proportion are
weighed against the smaller companies
– to this can be attributed the demise of
our industry over the last 15 years.
Perhaps the biggest current challenge is
changes in taxation and the treatment
of buy-to-let clients. There is a blanket
assumption by those in the capital that
what happens in London generally
applies to the rest of the country. This
couldn’t be further from the truth,
as there is enormous variation within
the country with respect to market
dynamics. While buy-to-let can be
unsavoury for the London market, it
has many benign uses in the country
as a whole. One of the common uses
of this scheme is when parents buy a
property for their children when they’re
studying at university, with a view to
having the property bought by the
children at a later date. As a result of
changes in the law, though, this is now
much more difficult.
Another unforeseen consequence of
this change in the law is, for example,
in the case of a divorced couple, where
the leaving partner was not able to be
removed from the mortgage or deeds
due to circumstances often beyond
their control. This partner now faces
extra tax when trying to buy their
own residential property, as it is now
treated as a second home.
We nevertheless survive these because
of our adaptability and stability.
The longer-term focus as of now is
ensuring we remain relevant for the
younger generations who are much
more technologically savvy. We’ve kept
up so far, but we’re always looking
toward making the next steps in this
direction. This has been helped by
employing the next generation.
Ultimately, we’re a family business
withquality clients and a business
model that produces new opportunities,
which means we don’t have a high
turnover of advisers. We have a stable
business and have been working with
the same model for over 18 years; that
is to say, we have a general continuity
of culture that keeps us going whatever
comes our way. Part of this entails
providing a wonderful atmosphere, for
both our clients and our staff.
One of the upsides of recent legislation,
however, is that mortgage deals can
be renewed more easily, which was
something annoyingly difficult to achieve
before. This has obvious benefits for us;
we can now offer them a change of
terms with their existing lenders as well as
the opportunity to remortgage to a new
lender. The FCA announced that lenders
must give advice, and we can do this
more professionally. In light of this, we
believe that business for us will continue
to grow for the foreseeable future.
through to the next
Our growth in
the last two
2017 we grew
by over 30 per
cent, and this
quarter has seen
us increase by
45 per cent
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.